Manuscript Illumination with the Assumption of the Virgin in an Initial A, from an Antiphonary

Artist: Attributed to Cosmè Tura (Cosimo di Domenico di Bonaventura) (Italian, Ferrara ca. 1433–1495 Ferrara)

Date: 1450–60

Geography: Made in Ferrara, Italy

Culture: Italian

Medium: Tempera, ink, and gold on parchment

Dimensions: Overall: 17 5/16 x 12 1/8 in. (43.9 x 30.8 cm)
illumination: 7 9/16 x 6 5/8 in. (19.2 x 16.9 cm)
Mat size: 21 15/16 x 16 in. (55.7 x 40.6 cm)

Classification: Manuscripts and Illuminations

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1911

Accession Number: 11.50.1


This miniature was excised from a lost series of choirbooks decorated by Cosimo Tura for an unidentified Franciscan convent in Ferrara. The initial A introduces one of the antiphons for the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin (August 15): "Assumpta est Maria in celum: gaudent angeli" (Mary has been taken up into heaven! The Angels are rejoicing). This text is illustrated by the twelve apostles kneeling in a landscape around the Virgin's tomb, their heads uplifted in contemplation of a celestial vision of her seated next to Christ. Shaping the initial itself is the fantastically rendered body of a dragon.

This fragment and nine other related cuttings, from the same series of choirbooks, were probably executed by Cosimo Tura on behalf of the ruling Este family for one of the churches under their patronage.